SFCED | San Francisco Center for Economic Development

Boutique Condo Buildings Swoop into Sizzling San Francisco Housing Market

Developer Sean Sullivan bought a former gas station at 15th Street and South Van Ness in 2008 as the nation’s economy was collapsing, but he closed on the property anyway.

A lot can happen in six years: the Mission became an “it” neighborhood and the city’s condo market is now on fire just as Sullivan is weeks away from completing 1515, a 40-unit condo project on the site.

The same goes for other developers who risked building boutique condo projects over the past few years and are now poised to sell units during one of the hottest condo markets in recent memory.

“One gamble for us was that South Van Ness does not have a lot of condo development,” said Sullivan, founder of JS Sullivan Development, which has built other condo projects on Valencia Street — before it was cool — and at 29th and Mission streets. “Coming out of the recession, from the investment standpoint, there’s a desire for and recognition of smaller projects.”

In many cases, developers found that it was easier to find sites, entitle and finance small to medium condo projects that will start sales before the year’s end, such as the 47-unit 8 Octavia in Hayes Valley, Trumark Urban’s 27-unit Amero project in Cow Hollow, the 26-unit 870 Harrison in SoMa, the 33-unit 35 Dolores from Lightner Property Group and the 39-unit Millwheel project in the Dogpatch that started sales earlier this month.

In total, those projects represent a few hundred units — not much compared with Bosa Development’s 267-unit Arden in Mission Bay and Tishman Speyer’s 656-unit Lumina in Rincon Hill also launching sales in 2014. Still, smaller projects fill a niche in the market.

Read more: San Francisco Business Times Boutique Condo Buildings Swoop into Sizzling San Francisco Housing Market